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Anomalous Monist Science of Religion

The book approaches religion from a cognitive perspective, but not the typical one, arguing that it makes more sense to understand religion as a domain general phenomenon than a set of cobbled together domain specific modules. Traditional cognitive approaches to religion see religion built up out of domain specific cognitive mechanisms that evolved in the distant past. While my approach does not deny the relevance of these modules for religion, I argue that the "core" of religion is better comprehended with insight about general "intelligence." Though our minds have evolved often to solve very specific problems, the rubber meets the road in pragmatic situations where one's whole intelligence, for lack of a better word, must be applied.

The book is inspired by Donald Davidson's anomalous monist approach to language, arguing that religion has to be understood as a form of communication. Religion cannot be understood, and indeed even explained, while ignoring its communicative and semantic content. Religion can only be understood and explained in the context of biology and culture, which can be subsumed under the category of communication. But most biological approaches to religion ignore its temporal dimension, in other words, they have a weak grasp of religious history. Without this temporal perspective, evolutionary accounts of religion can't hope to account for it. Religion has to be understood in the context of dynamical developing systems, and the content of religion (i.e. what religious people actually say) is an essential part of this development.

In each of the chapters, I take up a number of examples relevant to this approach.

Chapter One: Semantics

Chapter Two: Fiction

Chapter Three: Information

Chapter Four: Books of Creation

Chapter Five: Celebrity

Chapter Six: Intimacy

New Book Project



Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898 - 1972)